I Come by it Honest – or – Hubbin’ It

Exodus 34:7; Psalm 32:9

(Disclaimer: The following anecdotes are recounted as I remember them. They may or may not be historically or factually accurate, but they are my memories.)

This post partially answers the question many of you may be asking. “Wes, why are you the way you are? How did you get like that?”  Recently, I was shopping for some items in a store, and the young worker inquired, “May I help you?” I simply answered, “I don’t think so, but a lot of people have tried. Thank you.”  The blank glassy-eyed stare gave me the idea she didn’t get it. In Texas, we like the colloquialisms, “The apple don’t fall far from the tree,” or “He comes by it honest.”  That is simply a way of explaining how eye color, hair color, height, and weight aren’t the only things we inherit genetically from our parents and grandparents. Sometimes we also acquire a manner of speaking or walking or acting.

apple

I reveled in my dad’s stories of his father’s educational journey, as well as his own. My paternal grandfather must have been quite a character. In the day when students entered college at 16 years old, he enrolled in Simmons College.  Almost immediately, he ran afoul of the dean of students. I was told he quickly found himself one demerit away from expulsion. Demerit systems, in that day, were used by colleges to punish adverse behavior at prescribed levels. When he became aware of the situation, he decided military service was the better option. On his way off campus to the recruiting office, he winked at the female dean (an egregious act of flirtation in the early 1900s). Since he wasn’t old enough to join, he lied about his name. His nickname at school was “Hairy” because of his hairy chest, so he entered the service as “Harry” Wellborn, instead of his given name, Walter. His veteran’s tombstone still bears that inscription.

Daddy entered Decatur Bible College at Decatur, Texas (now Dallas Baptist), in hopes of preparing for a lifetime of ministry.  That did not mean, however, he had suddenly become a somber personality.  He loved to laugh, and loved making friends laugh. Pranks, such as walking a milk cow to the top floor of the administration building (and leaving her there) were evidently frowned upon as conduct unbecoming a young academician.  Not only did he love to laugh, he loved to love…when love was right. He once told me the story of having a fiancee before he met my mother. He was engaged to a gal named Vesta, whom he described only as “a big girl.” It seems he decided to call it off on short notice, but Vesta’s Pa and brothers would have none of it.  Daddy claims to have hid in the woods around Decatur all weekend because Vesta’s father and brothers were armed and looking for him. He found sanctuary in the home of a long-time buddy, Red Yancey.  I got to meet Red in my childhood years, who corroborated my father’s stories. Ironically, his future mother-in-law (my mother’s mother – my Mamaw) was also named Vesta. I never fully discovered why my dad called it quits with the original Vesta, but I know he loved my mother with a passion. He adored her, and anyone who saw them together knew it. He never shied away from publicly showing her or us affection.

I remember Daddy telling me I walked with a “Gannaway wobble.” His maternal grandmother’s last name was Gannaway, and he was named for her husband, Arthur Wesley Gannaway.  He claimed that strolling style and his love for preaching were owed to his predecessor in life. Papa Gannaway was a man I never met but heard a lot about. He surrendered to a call to preach late in life and pursued it as best he could.  Both my parents have told me he encouraged my father about ministry at their wedding ceremony.  “Son, don’t hub-it like I did.”  He never felt like he completely fulfilled his calling, for various reasons.  I’ve thought a lot about that bit of sage advice. It comes from the idea of a wagon going down an old trail, where the wagon wheels have dug deep trenches in the dirt.  The wagon can’t change course because the ruts are too deep, and the wheels are up to the hub. You have no choice but to go until there is more level ground.

I remember after my 41st birthday, I came to a mental and emotional crossroad of sorts.  My father died four days after his 41st birthday.  Until that point, his death had been the defining factor in my life. Even at middle-age, I saw myself as the poor orphan boy.  I realized from there on out, there was no road map.  I had no pattern to model.  I had no ruts to follow.  Now, I was no longer a settler, I was a pioneer. I had to find my own way.

Sometimes, we feel as if our life has already been pre-determined, mapped out for us, and is unchangeable. Because of our lineage or our past, we only take familiar paths with deep ruts. Some of the things our ancestors instilled in us are good things, but that does not mean their failings also have to be ours. We don’t have to be like a horse or mule, changing course only when there are no alternatives. We can also rely on God-granted wisdom to change course when the situation calls for it.  And yes, I still love a good prank now and then.

 

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Published in: on February 13, 2018 at 4:20 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Here’s to the pioneers! We are all searchers and seekers.


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